Make Your Scholarship Applications Shine

Dedicating time and paying attention to the details are two essential requirements when applying for college scholarships.

Unfortunately, too many college-bound students lower their chance to earn a scholarship by procrastinating, often resulting in sloppy applications with typos and mistakes.

If the idea of earning free money for college interests you, it’s time to get to work. Visit your high school counseling office to learn about local, national and regional scholarships.

After you have been accepted to Western Oregon University, you can apply for more than 70 scholarships with one form which is due by March 1.

Make sure to research scholarships to see if your experience and background matches the criteria. Remember when you are applying for a scholarship, you are asking someone to invest in you and your future. Think of applying for scholarships the same as interviewing for a job.

Group of four students sitting at a table outdoors and smiling
After you have been accepted to Western Oregon University, you can apply for more than 70 scholarships with one form.

Here are 10 tips to make your college application standout:

  1. Follow the directions. Don’t submit a 1,000 word essay when the directions ask for a 1,000 character essay. Or apply for a scholarship for musicians if you don’t sing or play an instrument.
  2. Know the deadlines. If the scholarship is due at 5 p.m. Eastern time, make sure to submit it by 2 p.m. Pacific time. Missed deadlines equal disqualification.
  3. Brainstorm. Not sure what to write or stumbling to answer questions like what are your best leadership qualities? Or tell me about a time you failed and then succeeded? Ask your friends and family to brainstorm with you to get ideas on what to write.
  4. Understand the essay topic. If you are asked to write about how a mistake you made led to a success, don’t write about how great you are at everything. Your essay is where you get to share your personality, character and other talents and skills.
  5. Make a good impression. A scholarship is where you want to show you have what it takes to succeed academically and socially at a university. Regardless whether you are rewarded a scholarship, send a thank you note, especially if it’s a local scholarship. If you didn’t get the scholarship this year, there may be a chance to apply again next year.
  6. Understand boundaries. There are certain topics you discuss with your best friends and maybe even parents. There are other topics you should never share with a scholarship committee. Before you share personal details, ask yourself would you be comfortable if a complete stranger started telling you every detail about a hip surgery, a trauma or an illness.
  7. Think before your write. It’s OK to have opinions and ideas about different topics. Sharing your thoughts why cats are better than dogs in your essay might be perceived as a lecture. It’s best to avoid writing a one-sided essay about hot-button issues.
  8. Write your own essay. The scholarship committee wants to hear from you and why it should invest money in your education. Let your voice shine by using active verbs and avoiding clichés.
  9. Proofread your essay several times. It’s OK to ask a family member or another person to proof your essay for typos, just as long as they don’t rewrite it.
  10. Be honest. Be optimistic. Share why receiving a scholarship would assist you in achieving your goals. It’s OK to share about a roadblock in your life as long as you share what you learned from it.

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